Marketing Scarcity

Remember when you first discovered a new product that no one else heard of and you got to share your new found treasure?  It was so exciting that you couldn’t wait to tell your friends and family. Look what I found!  This product is amazing and by sharing my special find with you, it reflects back to me as someone who curates cool stuff.

Years later that same product is everywhere and everyone uses it and suddenly it has lost its panache. It is no longer that rare metal like platinum but just common aluminum. When something scarce becomes ubiquitous it loses an important aspect of the brand's personality. The product is no longer scarce

Scarcity versus abundance
We consumers go through cycles with all types of products but it is a particularly interesting phenomenon as success can kill a product because it loses its aura. Now everyone knows about it. Now everyone can find. Now everyone uses it. 

Years ago I feared expanding our bakery business thinking that if our Rachel's Brownies were everywhere they wouldn't be special. Fortunately, there were so many markets and channels to expand that I don’t think we ever hit that saturation point. But what can a brand do to keep alive that sense of original, unique and just for you? How can you inoculate it so it is reinfected with hip? 

These ideas aren't just for marketers selling products as they can be considered for those of you who sell a service too.

Three ideas to recharge a product
Limited Edition of Ben & Jerry's 

Limited Editions: Brands can introduce limited editions that are in the market for a short period of time and energize early adopters. Is there a way that you can do what ice cream companies have done for years and introduce a product for a limited time period? What is your version of creating a cannoli flavored ice cream for your brand? Can you develop a summer promotion to reemphasize a special benefit of what you do? If you are a mechanic, maybe it’s a special limited summer tune up bundling together a check of the AC system and tire rotation? Maybe it’s the vacation special?  

If you are a caterer delivering lunches to office maybe you have your ‘swimsuit ready sandwich selection’ where low calorie meals are packaged together. (A limited offering until Labor Day). Selling a variation of your product or service in a limited fashion brings some fresh energy, excitement and awareness to the brand.

Coffee Via Starbucks 
Freshen Up The Package: Another option is to change the graphics or even the functional package so that the product is seen as new again even if it is just in a different container.  Starbucks did it with Via where the essence of their coffee brand was transformed into a dry form that you can take with you. How can you repackage what you offer into a different format that is still consistent with your brand but an innovative twist? 

Think of what Dunkin Donuts did with munchkins. 

Maybe you market your energy drink in different pack sizes so that you bundled together 3 in a single pack and call it the triple play or the morning, noon and night pack. Work with the elements you have but find a new occasion or channel to sell. Shake it up. 

Past the Pete
Borrow Equity in a Promotion: When your product is connected to a new tribe or universe of users, you can find a way to shine a bright new light on the brand.  Maybe you highlight a branded ingredient that allows you to reach into that community and share equity. 

For example, if you are marketing a Spicy salad dressing, you cross promote Texas Pete or Tabasco as an ingredient in a licensing arrangement.  If you are run a sun tanning salon, maybe you offer a choice of three aromas while you tan to give that Hawaiian glow (coconut),  Acapulco (Tequila) or Myrtle Beach (Barbecue) scent?  Within your product or service offering, see if some constituent element can get front stage and become a hook to refresh the brand.

Create a New Discovery Path 
Keeping a brand fresh is critical since something new is always coming behind you. Plan out at least one new approach each year to spike the excitement and to reconnect your customers with their original delight in finding that hidden gold. 

Whole Foods Treasure Hunt 
It's On Me
My daughter Fanny who writes the popular blog Fanfare, lives in Wilmington and saw that her local Whole Foods was running a promotion this past Saturday. They gave away all kinds of free food in a treasure hunt. You only knew about it if you were a fan on their Facebook page and you had to go on a treasure hunt in the store to find those things with a specially marked sticker. So she hunted around the store and got to take home 10 things with It's on me stickers. Great promotion and imagine all the people online talking about the store. Whole Foods bagged this concept. Kudos to their marketing team. They keep the brand discovery happening. 

What are you doing to keep your brand scarce so your customers feel like they have found gold?  

Note:  Speaking of gold, I hope some of my ideas are worth discovering and sharing with like-minded marketing friends. If you treasure what I write, will you share it with at least one friend? Thank you. 

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